A bill approved by the cabinet has removed the last obstacles preventing thorough investigations into sporting event manipulation and especially football.
The bill aims at strengthening the means by which investigations can be launched into match fixing allegations while simultaneously establishing institutional procedures that protect sporting events, as well as persons who make complaints related to the manipulation of games.
The bill aims to strengthen the government’s resolve, as a matter of priority, to protect and further upgrade sports.
Recently, a large number of files regarding suspect football match fixing in Cyprus have been submitted for investigation by UEFA which has ultimately hurt the game as well as Cyprus’ reputation abroad.
The phenomenon has taken on worrying proportions while it is feared that it now involves organised crime syndicates.
The bill was the result of talks between the Justice Ministry, the Cyprus Football Association, the Cyprus Sports Organisation, the Referees Association and football teams.
In addition, it provides for the establishment of an independent Commission of Ethics and Protection of Sports, which has both preventive and repressive powers to investigate ex officio and / or following a complaint, information on manipulation of sports events, including complaints submitted by UEFA.
The bill classifies the manipulation of sporting events as corruption for the first time and specifies stiff prison sentences and heavy fines for persons involved in such cases and include a maximum prison sentence of seven years or a fine of up to €200,000 or both.
The bill also provides for a maximum five year prison sentence or a €100,000 fine or both for persons found guilty of bribing persons, or those offering services against payment, to manipulate sporting events.